Tax increases or massive defense cuts?
That appears to be the choice the Democrats are giving the Republicans in the debt talks.
National security spending could be cut by as much as $700 billion in a deal to raise the debt limit, defense sources said.
That's almost twice the amount President Obama originally proposed.
Obama directed the Defense Department and other national-security agencies to slash $400 billion by 2023. But in the closed-door talks to raise the debt ceiling, larger Pentagon funding cuts have been seriously discussed, several sources said, putting the number between $600 billion and $700 billion over a decade.
A final decision has yet to be made, but the sources said negotiators have not ruled out making deeper cuts than Obama planned.
As the Aug. 2 deadline for defaulting on the debt approaches, GOP members have dug in and said any accord cannot include tax hikes.
Sources told The Hill recently that GOP negotiators are ready to break with recent Republican ideology by trading large defense cuts for not raising taxes as part of a debt-ceiling deal.
What is extremely disturbing about this is that both parties are approaching cuts in defense the same way they might cut funding to national parks, or transportation. You don't pick a number out of the blue and say we're going to cut $700 billion from defense. The first thing you do is determine what our defense needs are and then find savings that can be made without affecting our ability to defend ourselves or our interests.
New defense secretary Leon Panetta is a good Obama soldier (that's why he's there) and probably won't protest too much. And the military will grumble, but tradition and honor preclude them from openly criticizing the politicians.
The fall off in our effectiveness to battle terrorists and confront the thugs of the world will be a choice, not an inevitable decline.